• High Life: Condo Living in the Suburban Century
    Matthew Gordon Lasner
    Yale University Press, 2012
    Matthew Gordon Lasner

Lionel V. Mayell, Villa San Pasqual, 1954, Pasadena, CA. Courtesy of Amanda Elioff.

Today, one in five homeowners in U.S. cities and suburbs lives in a multifamily, rather than single-family dwelling. As the American dream evolves, precipitated by real-estate crises, demographic change, and a renewed interest in higher-density living, many predict that condos will become the predominant form of housing in the twenty-first century. In this unprecedented study, Matthew Gordon Lasner explores the history of this alternative to the suburban house, from New York City's first co-op building (1881) to contemporary condo and townhouse complexes coast to coast. Lasner explains the complicated social, economic, and political factors that have increased demand for this way of living, situating the trend within the larger housing market and broad shifts in residential architecture. He contrasts the prevalence and popularity of condos, townhouses, and other co-owned communities with their ambiguous economic, legal, and social standing, as well as their striking absence from urban and architectural history.

Matthew Gordon Lasner is assistant professor of urban affairs and planning at Hunter College, where he teaches courses on urbanism, housing, and the built environment. He earned his PhD in architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning at Harvard University, an MS in planning from the London School of Economics, and a BA in urban studies from Columbia. His research interests include the history and theory of modern urbanism and planning, vernacular housing, and suburban form. His book High Life: Condo Living in the Suburban Century (Yale University Press, 2012) explores the emergence of co-op and condominium housing in the United States. His writing has also appeared in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Buildings & Landscapes, Planning Perspectives, the Journal of Architectural Education, caa reviews, and elsewhere.